PANTHERS 48 EDINBURGH 42

Sunday May 13, 2018
MICHAEL Palm Toft swept to a stunning 18-point maximum as Peterborough ground out a hard-fought 48-42 win over Edinburgh at the East of England Arena on Sunday.

Palm Toft reeled off six straight wins as the T.Balfe Construction Panthers dug themselves out of a hole and recovered an early deficit to add three points to their Championship total in a highly entertaining meeting.

Just as on Friday against Workington, Panthers found themselves trailing in the early stages – but thankfully not to such a disastrous extent.

And with Palm Toft leading the comeback by winning a tactical substitute ride and No.1 Scott Nicholls enjoying his best home meeting of the season, Panthers had the firepower to hit back.

There was an early setback in Heat 2 when Tom Bacon was penalised for tape touching and the re-run saw Monarchs duo Matt Williamson and Josh Pickering team-ride their way to a 5-1 over Simon Lambert.

Palm Toft started his evening with a fine ride in Heat 3 to pass first Max Ruml and then Mark Riss on the final bend, but a 4-2 to the visitors headed up by captain Erik Riss in the next extended their lead to six points.

Panthers bided their time and shared the next two races with Nicholls emulating Palm Toft in Heat 6 with a third-to-first ride to defeat Erik Riss and Williamson.

And Palm Toft’s extra ride in Heat 7 paid dividends as he teamed up with Ulrich Ostergaard to slash the deficit to two points.

After a shared Heat 8 in which Lambert came to grief, Panthers levelled matters in the next although their hopes of a 5-1 were thwarted by Erik Riss’s bold move to split Palm Toft and Lunna.

But Panthers did go ahead in a dramatic Heat 10 in which Mark Riss crashed out on turn two before Nicholls and Grondal hit the front in the re-run – only for Grondal to suffer mechanical trouble and be forced to push home for a lap for third place.

The Monarchs weren’t fading away, though, and it took a fine ride by Bacon to ensure only a 2-4 concession in Heat 11 in a frantic duel involving Joel Andersson and Ostergaard.

And Panthers finally made some headway in Heat 12 with Bacon coming in to replace Lambert and charging round the field on turn two – to be joined by Lunna as Mark Riss and Williamson lost ground for the Monarchs.

Nicholls controlled a competitive Heat 13 which was shared, and a further share in Heat 14 featuring Palm Toft’s fifth win took the meeting into a last-heat decider with Panthers 44-40 up.

Edinburgh’s hopes of a draw evaporated immediately with mechanical failure for Ricky Wells, but whilst Palm Toft completed his fabulous full house, Erik Riss did salvage a league point for the visitors by getting the better of Nicholls on the last lap.

Panthers boss Carl Johnson said: “It was pleasing to go out and win what was another tough meeting. We all pulled together after Friday’s result, and thankfully we turned it round.

“Michael was absolutely superb tonight, and you can’t take anything away from him. We gave him the tactical as well, and he looked untouchable. Once he got out in front, nobody could get anywhere near him.

“That’s what we want from him – obviously we’re not going to get 18 points from him every week, but it’s about consistency race by race and tonight he showed what he can do.”

CHAMPIONSHIP
PETERBOROUGH 48: Michael Palm Toft 18, Scott Nicholls 12, Emil Grondal 5+1, Tom Bacon 5, Ulrich Ostergaard 4+1, Nike Lunna 3+1, Simon Lambert 1.
EDINBURGH 42: Erik Riss 10+1, Ricky Wells 9+1, Josh Pickering 6+2, Matt Williamson 5, Max Ruml 4+2, Joel Andersson 4+1, Mark Riss 4.

Picture: CHLOE MAY COLES

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